We’re a couple of tournaments into the new Champions Tour season, so this seems like a good time for me to check-in and share all my latest news. There’s plenty going on, both on and off the golf course.
We start with tournament news. I’m 25-under par for the six rounds played in Hawaii and Florida, with a top-10 finish both weeks, so you could say that’s a solid start. I’ve been competing well, but haven’t put it over the finish line. Thinking about it, I’ve got to kind of force my game into a certain way of playing a lot of these courses, which is a little different for me in terms of the way I’ve played throughout my career. But we’ve done two full seasons on the Champions Tour and I’m getting used to it. Now we’ve just got to try to find some momentum and get on kind of a roll – that’s when it all clicks into place. Next up on the schedule are tournaments in Arizona and California next month.
Obviously my goal is still to play competitive golf and I love that part of my life. But we’ve got other things on our plate now, primarily our autism foundation, and that requires a level of commitment and passion also. That’s part and parcel of our lives now and I love that, too. Liezl and myself, we always had big dreams for this foundation and we’re thrilled to be able to say they’re becoming a reality.
Liezl and the team are working flat-out right now. April is World Autism Month, so there’s lots of planning on that front. We have other big events coming up, starting on March 23-24 when The Els for Autism Foundation is hosting the Autism Innovations and Global Impact Conference at our Els Center of Excellence campus in Jupiter, Florida. Click here for more information. Then on March 25 there’s a 5k run which you can sign up to at this link.
Looking further ahead, on June 16 we have the official opening of the Adult Services Building at the Els Center of Excellence campus. This is so important because for anyone affected by autism, the help basically ends at age 21. So an adult services building for those most severely affected, who perhaps can’t get back into society, is vital. Otherwise, they either have to move back to their families…or who knows where. So whatever their needs and interests, our new adult services building will keep supporting them.
In May we’ll also be launching our 13th annual Golf Challenge, featuring a schedule of tournaments at top-rated courses across the US and Canada (see poster below). Since its inception in 2011 we’ve raised more than $33.9 million – it’s a truly humbling statistic and we’re so grateful to our family of sponsors, golfers and donors. Literally every dollar and cent benefits the Els for Autism Foundation.
For all of these events, and for any information that you might need about Els for Autism and the work that we do, please visit the website.
Back home in South Africa, our man Nico van Rensburg continues to do an incredible job with our series of golf day fundraisers. There’s a new poster on the homepage of this website, giving details of how you can take part. These really are wonderful days out, so we hope you can join us somewhere along the line. If you can support us, we thank you.
On a related note, a major part of our motivation for setting-up Ernie Els Pet Products in 2019 was to help raise funds for Els for Autism, so we’re happy to see that business going from strength to strength. We had a stand at the recent PGA Show in Florida and I spent a very enjoyable day there, meeting a lot of nice people who’s pets are very excited about our products! It’s obviously an entirely new line of business for us, but it works. We’ve got a great product line and, as I said, a portion of the proceeds from all sales goes directly to Els for Autism. Visit the website if you’d like to find out more.
On the golf course design front, there’s a lot of activity behind the scenes. The guys are doing a great job and I’ve joined them on a couple of exciting site visits this year. I can’t share much information at this stage, but we’ll be able to write again soon and reveal all.
Generally speaking, I’m always getting news and updates from our existing portfolio of courses all around the world, including from The Els Club Desaru Coast which has just been voted Best Golf Course in Malaysia at the World Golf Awards. It’s one of the things I love about this business; the sense that we’ve created something special that has a really positive impact on the community and the lifestyle of the people that visit or live in the area. Click here for the full list of golf courses in the Ernie Els Design portfolio. You can also view our list of industry Awards and Accolades here.
Finally, for those of you who are interested in this sort of thing, I’ve pretty much got a whole new set of clubs in the bag for this new season. Big thanks to my club sponsors XXIO, Srixon, Cleveland and Bloodline for looking after me and giving me all the tools to do my day job! Click here for all the details.
Okay, that’s it for now. We’ll have further updates soon.